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Google+ Visits Up 27% Between Feb. and March: What Does That Mean?

April 9, 2012

It's time to check in on Google+! New numbers from Experian Hitwise suggest the number of visits to Google+ is up 27 percent between February and March, reaching a total of more than 61 million visits.

The new statistic comes just days after Google CEO Larry Page mentioned that Google+ is home to more than 100 million active users — whatever the company technically defines as an "active user." And that figure is up ten million users since Page last commented on Google+ active users in January.

In contrast, Experian Hitwise reports that the Google+ competitor Facebook is down 1.3 billion visits between July of 2011 and March of 2012 — a 15-percent drop. But that still puts Facebook at a grand total of approximately 7 billion visits for March, or just over 114 times the traffic of Google+.

That's a ton more engagement, right?

First off, let's put the social networks into perspective. Google+ isn't competing against Facebook and Facebook alone. According to Experian Hitwise, Google+ is actually sixth on the list of most-popular social networks for March visits. Facebook takes first, followed by Twitter, relative newcomer Pinterest, Linkedin, and Tagged.

Second, there's a specific reason we keep using the word "visits." To Experian Hitwise, a visit is recorded every time a user hits up a site. If a user leaves and comes back within 30 minutes, he or she is still just that singular visit. Return to the site anytime after 30 minutes, however, and that's a brand-new visit added to the total.

In other words, it's difficult to make direct statements about Google+ engagement using Experian Hitwise's "61 million visits" calculation for Google+, as there's no indication of just how many unique visitors are hitting up the social network. Or, for that matter, how often they stay or return — remember, a January Comscore report put average time on site for Google+ members at a mere 3.3 minutes for the entire month. In contrast, Facebook members spent an average of 7.5 hours on the site in January.

Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, Experian Hitwise's figures don't take mobile visits into account. And in the case of Google+, they don't count any activity from the Google notification bar — the big red number you'll sometimes see across various Google apps to alert you that something is happening on your Google+ account.

Useful numbers? Yes: Experian Hitwise allows us to surmise the relative popularity of social networks as a combination of their total user base and overall traffic. But the ever-elusive engagement figure for Google+ still remains mysterious: What percentage of its total users are logging into their profiles, adjusting their circles, and commenting on friends' posts each day, week, or month?



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